Michael Montero’s Boxing Notebook: The Top 25 Pound for Pound

30.01.07 - By Michael Montero: Top ten pound for pound lists are too easy so I decided to challenge myself and come up with a list of the top 25 fighters in the current boxing scene…

The Rules:

I DO NOT RANK HEAVYWEIGHTS! Even if I did, there’s only one that would deserve such ranking and he of course is Wladimir Klitschko (who I’d probably put somewhere in the top twenty). Also, I don’t base my rankings solely on records and/or title status; I factor in the fighter’s talent, potential, quality of opposition, length of time and/or dominance in their current division, and said fighter’s potential style match ups with other top ranked fighters.

Here we go…

1. Manny Pacquiao - 130 pounds – next fight: 04/28 vs. In Jin Chi

The consensus 2006 fighter of the year starts off his ’07 in China in what shapes up to be a great fight. Later in the year, a rematch with the Barrera/Marquez winner looms in the balance. Can the promoters get that mega-fight signed, sealed and delivered? We hope so.

2. Winky Wright - 160 pounds – next fight: ???

He’s losing momentum and depending on his next opponent, will probably fall to #3 on my list. There was talk about a possible rematch with Jermain Taylor or even a fight with Joe Calzaghe, but now it looks like neither are going to happen. Instead, we’ve heard a lot of Mr. Wright calling out his promoter’s name (one Oscar De La Hoya). It looks like Winky is more interested in money fights from now until he hangs up the gloves.

3. Floyd Mayweather Jr. – 154 pounds – next fight: 05/05 vs. Oscar De La Hoya

Managed to become the linear Welterweight Champion last year, now has an upcoming mega-fight with De La Hoya to further increase his public visibility. After that bout (which is really a mismatch), what will Floyd do? He talked about retirement last year, but after blowing out De La Hoya the money will really start flowing and we all know he’ll stick around.

4. Marco Antonio Barrera - 130 pounds – next fight: 03/17 – Juan Manuel Marquez

Is he fading? He beat Rocky Juarez twice last year but didn’t look great doing it. Now he’s facing an elite boxer in Marquez this March. His performance in that fight should answer many of the questions that came up during his bouts with Juarez.

5. Rafael Marquez - 122 pounds – next fight: 03/03 - Israel Vazquez

Moving up in weight to face the best 122-pounder in the world in Las Vegas – this match has hardcore boxing lovers excited. The winner of this one has to be a consensus top five pound for pounder.

6. Jose Luis Castillo - 140 – next fight: Ricky Hatton ???

Had a very shaky performance a couple weeks back, but clearly won the fight (though barely) and set up a big match with Ricky Hatton later this year. Was it ring rust? Was it a bad style match up? Or was his lackluster performance against Herman Ngoidjo a sign that the Mexican warrior is falling off? We’ll find out if he does indeed get in the ring with Hatton. The winner of that fight is undoubtedly THE champion at 140.

7. Juan Manuel Marquez - 130 pounds – next fight: 03/17 – Marco Antonio Barrera

Finally gets a crack at fellow Mexican elite, Barrera, in March. This is his chance to really enter the big-time and solidify himself as a hall of fame candidate. If he beats Barrera he sets himself up for a rematch with Pacquiao, which is all he’s wanted since the two fought to a draw in 2004.

8. Jermain Taylor - 160 pounds – next fight: Sergio Mora???

Is recognized as THE Middleweight Champion, but has a few tough customers knocking on the door. Edison Miranda and Kelly Pavlick are climbing fast – and let’s not forget about Arthur Abraham in Germany. There were rumors that he might move up to 168, yet his promoter Lou DiBella says he’s staying at 160. That means eventually (hopefully) we should see him go up against one of the fighters named above.

9. Ricky Hatton - 140 pounds – Jose Luis Castillo???

If he fights and beats Castillo what’s next? A unification bout with Junior Witter? Another all-action fight with Diego Corrales? Does he move up again for a mega-fight with Mayweather? One things for sure – the sky’s the limit for him at 140.

10. Joe Calzaghe - 168 pounds - 04/07 – Peter Manfredo Jr.

After punishing Jeff Lacy, bouts with Sakio Bika and Peter Manfredo weren’t exactly what boxing fans neither wanted nor expected, but Joe is still the top dog at 168. He should beat Manfredo, but then what’s next? Hopefully, it’s somebody named Mikkel Kessler, Winky Wright, Jermain Taylor or Bernard Hopkins – or else the Welshman falls out of my top ten.

11. Bernard Hopkins - 175 pounds - 07/14 ???

The linear Light Heavyweight Champion does have a date scheduled, but no opponent. Call me crazy, but that July date works out perfectly for a bout with Calzaghe. Hmm…

12. Israel Vazquez - 122 pounds – next fight: 03/03 - Rafael Marquez

His mega-match with Marquez is just a little over a month away – it should be something special. A win over his fellow Mexican moves him into the top ten and puts him in line for other big fights in the near future.

13. Shane Mosley - 147 pounds – next fight: 02/10 - Luis Collazo

Takes on tough (and underrated) former titlist Collazo in a couple weeks. We all saw Sugar Shane beat up on a faded Fernando Vargas twice last year – but how will he do with a strong young fighter in his prime? Collazo is 10 years younger, a southpaw, and he can box. This one should be interesting.

14. Diego Corrales - 140 pounds – next fight: ???

He should have left the lightweight division after his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo, but unfortunately he hung around and it cost him. He was absolutely drained in his losing effort to Joel Casamayor last year – if that fight was at 140 Corrales probably would have won. What’s next for him? Nothing’s currently scheduled, but I got a hunch that Diego still has gas in the tank and could become a factor at 140.

15. Mikkel Kessler - 168 pounds – next fight: 03/24 Librado Andrade

Faces tough, fellow undefeated fighter Librado Andrade in late March. Should he win that fight, his resume over the past two years will be better than that of one Joe Calzaghe – and should make a bout between the two an inevitability.

16. Ivan Calderon – 105 pounds – next fight: ???

At only 5’0” tall and fighting in the Minimumweight Division, this little man doesn’t get much attention – but he should. Pound for pound he’s one of the best boxers in the world. You’ve probably seen him on an undercard or two. If you enjoy the little guys and appreciate the sweet science, he’s one to watch.

17. Miguel Cotto – 147 pounds – next fight: 03/03 Oktay Urkal (06/09 Margarito)

Might be the best Welterweight in the world at the moment. Was his performance against Carlos Quintana in December a career night – or a sign of things to come? I would favor the Miguel Cotto that fought on that night over Floyd Mayweather Jr. – yeah I said it. He’s going to destroy Urkal in March, and bring a lot of momentum into his fight with my #18 guy…

18. Antonio Margarito - 147 pounds – next fight: 06/09 Miguel Cotto

Had a rough outing against Joshua Clottey on the Cotto-Quintatna undercard – but who doesn’t look bad against the rugged Clottey? Keep in mind, Margarito was shaking off almost a year of ring rust, and coming into that fight injured. He recently vacated his WBO title to skip Paul Williams and go up against Cotto in June. Why? Not only because Cotto is the bigger name (the bigger purse), but the better fighter as well. Trust me folks, if Margarito beats Cotto in June, he’ll face Williams by the end of the year and pay him back for all the trash he’s been talking.

19. Juan Diaz – 135 pounds – next fight: 03/03 Joel Casamayor

The Baby Bull looks to unify his WBA Lightweight title with Casamayor’s WBC version in March. This should be a great fight, and it will give us the true Lightweight Champion. Diaz is 12 years younger, much stronger and should be favored in this bout.

20. Tomasz Adamek - 175 pounds - 02/03 Chad Dawson

Might just be the best Light Heavyweight in the world, and I favor him to beat Dawson this Saturday. Who’s next after that? We know that Hopkins wants absolutely no part of him – so who’s out there? Hmm… A win over Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson or Clinton Woods would look good on his resume – and his promoter (Don King) has the power to make those fights happen.

21. Oscar De La Hoya - 154 pounds – next fight: 05/05 Floyd Mayweather Jr.

His fight with Mayweather is truly a mismatch as The Golden Boy is well past his prime and has never fared well against boxers. Want evidence? See Oscar’s fights with Shane Mosley, Felix Sturm and Bernard Hopkins. The only advantage he has over Floyd is size, but you can’t hurt what you can’t hit. All that being said – he’s still the biggest draw in the sport and he’s still got a shot at knocking off the Pretty Boy.

22. Chris John - 126 pounds – next fight: 02/24 Jose Rojas

Got a gift decision over Marquez in his native Indonesia last year, but he did go twelve rounds with him and the fight was damn close – that’s gotta count for something right? I’d like to move him up on my list, but he needs to leave his native soil and take some chances.

23. Vic Darchinyan - 112 – next fight: 03/03 Victor Burgos

The best Flyweight in the world, hands down. The guys a freak of nature in terms of punching power and strength for his weight class. Who wouldn’t want to see him move up in weight and fight Jorge Arce? Unfortunately, we all know Arce’s people will avoid that fight like that plague.

24. Jorge Arce – 115 pounds – next fight: ???
Simply the most entertaining little guy in the biz. He’s had a couple “gimme” fights on HBO as of late – now it’s time to make a statement. He’ll probably end up fighting fellow Mexican Martin Castillo later in the year, that’s a good start.

25. Edwin Valero - 130 – next fight: ???

Absolutely destroyed Michael Lozada earlier this month in Japan – so now what? He’s proved that he’s healthy and safe fighting, now it’s up to the Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to lift his suspension so he can fight in the states. There is talk of a possible bout with Manny Pacquiao happening over the next 12-18 months. If this fight happens you can forget about fight of the year – this one has fight of the century written all over it! This kid has the goods.

On the bubble (some of these guys are fading, some are on the rise – but they are all just a big win or two away from being mentioned above):

Joan Guzman, O'Neil Bell, Zsolt Erdei, Arthur Abraham, Luis Collazo, In Jin Chi, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Joel Casamayor, Edison Miranda, Cory Spinks, Celestino Caballero, Jeff Lacy, Erik Morales, Zab Judah

Comments, questions, hate mail – you know what to do. I plan on posting a mailbag with the reader’s best questions/comments very soon so bring ‘em on. I want to hear from you…


Article posted on 30.01.2007

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